Work Smarter (Not Harder) in 2017

You might have heard the advice many times: “Work smarter, not harder.”

It’s a catchy phrase that probably causes you to nod your head in agreement. That is, until one day you think about it and realize that you don’t even know what it means.

Oh sure, in general terms it makes perfect sense, but what about the specifics? How do you go about working smarter without dashing about and working yourself into a lather as you’re doing it? Working hard doesn’t take much practice. As a matter of fact, it seems to come naturally. Working smarter, on the other hand, is quite another story.

It takes an enormous amount of self-awareness to work smart because you must know how to build upon your strengths and the strengths of others. Only then will you be able to build a network from which to reach your goals in a quick and efficient manner.

Here are some specific tips to help you work smarter and become more productive:

Take a different approach to emails

Emails can be a big time waster. Every time a new email arrives, you’re alerted, and you stop what you’re doing to read it. Then you decide to either respond or deal with it later. By the time you get back to what you were doing, you can’t remember where you left off, and you’ve killed your momentum.

Instead, create a folder for each day of the week. Designate times during your day for checking your email, during which you can delete them or put them into one of the day-of-the-week folders. That keeps your inbox empty, and all emails are assigned to a specific day.

Use GPS (goal, purpose, and scope)

When you must delegate, GPS helps the person to whom you are transferring work to stay on track. Here’s how it works:

  • Goal – Explain what the project should look like when it’s completed.
  • Purpose – Let the person know how the project fits into a bigger picture
  • Scope – Give the person the full details like a deadline, audience, budget, and resources.

Set a time frame

While to-do lists can make you more productive, they don’t guarantee that you will complete a project on time. When you time yourself, you acquire more self-awareness into how long a task is taking. From that, you will be able to identify and re-purpose other duties in your schedule.

Leave a note to yourself

You can’t always avoid interruptions. If you must stop a task before it’s finished, leave a note to yourself with the details of where you stopped. You’ll be able to pick right up where you left off without wasting time trying to remember where that was.

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